P. S. Suryanarayana
SINGAPORE: A hostage crisis aboard a hijacked bus, scripted by an armed person said to be a professional attention-seeker, was played out by him in front of television cameras in downtown Manila on Wednesday. The drama ended peacefully, as all the victims over 30 pre-school children and two teachers of a day-care centre run by the hostage-taker himself were released unharmed, after nearly a 10-hour standoff with the police. The hostage-taker was identified as Amando Jun Ducat. His main demands were free education and free housing for all the children at the centre located in a Manila neighbourhood of poor residents. The drama began early in the day withDucat, who was believed to be carrying a hand grenade and one or two other weapons, suddenly taking control of the bus. Soon, the police surrounded the bus, cordoned off the area, and "a crisis team" arrived on the scene for negotiating the release of the hostages. Ducat finally surrendered, handing over what appeared to be a hand grenade. The children too were set free at the same time.